Ray skips game but isn't worried about stiffness

The Baltimore Sun

OAKLAND, Calif. -- In a save situation in the bottom of the ninth inning, Chris Ray has gotten used to being the one on the mound, trying to preserve an Orioles victory. But in the Orioles' 2-0 win over the Oakland Athletics yesterday at McAfee Coliseum, Ray was forced to watch the ninth inning with several teammates.

The Orioles are proceeding with caution with Ray, who told interim manager Dave Trembley that his arm felt stiff while playing catch before the game. Ray, the team's second-year closer who has 16 saves in 20 opportunities, has been getting treatment on his arm, though he didn't appear to be very concerned.

He spoke with Trembley and director of baseball administration Scott Proefrock in the manager's office after the game. He's expected to be checked by team doctors today or tomorrow.

"I woke up and it was just a little stiff," said Ray, who pitched a scoreless inning in Friday's series opener, his only appearance on the six-game road trip. "Warming up, I just couldn't get it going. We've got a day off [today]. We'll give it some time and see how it feels on Tuesday."

When Ray informed Trembley that he was experiencing the stiffness, Trembley immediately told him he had the day off.

"Today was the first time he's said that," Trembley said. "He's only pitched one time in the last seven days, so he hasn't said anything to me before about it."

Jamie Walker pitched a perfect ninth for his first save since July 21, 2004, as a member of the Detroit Tigers. If Ray is shut down for a while, Trembley will have several choices to close games, including Walker, Chad Bradford and Danys Baez, who has 111 career saves but has struggled in the setup role this season.

"It was [weird], but Walker did a great job," Ray said. "Obviously, you want to be in there for that situation, but instead of going out there and maybe hurting something, it's better to give it some time."

Jordan still confident

With the Aug. 15 deadline to sign draft picks looming, Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan remains confident that the club will sign its top two unsigned picks - Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters, the first-round selection, and Texas Christian pitcher Jacob Arrieta, the fifth-round selection. Both are represented by Scott Boras.

"We still expect to sign both of them, but most of this activity is going to take place in August as it is with most clubs dealing with these types of players," Jordan said. "That's just the nature of how things happen. It's more of a waiting game."

The Orioles will not sign their 10th-round pick, Eryk McConnell, a pitcher from North Carolina State, or their 38th-round pick, Michael Harrington, an outfielder from the College of Charleston. Both likely will return to college.

Daniel Klein (24th round), Pete Andrelczyk (32nd round), Kenneth Kelly (37th round), Russell Wilson (41st round) and Tyler Newsome (49th round) are also long shots to be signed.

Trembley has other concerns

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said repeatedly that his club's managerial situation would be put on the back burner until after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That means in a couple of weeks, Trembley might know a whole lot more about his status - not that it matters to the interim manager, who is too consumed by his club on a daily basis to give it much thought.

"I am aware of the situation, but I really haven't spent a great deal of time being concerned about it," Trembley said. "I've had all I could do to put my time in here and pay attention to detail. I have confidence that the right decision will be made whatever the decision is.

"I know it's an important decision that has to be made, but I know there are other decisions that are just as important as far as trying to evaluate the roster, improve the club, listening to other teams."

With yesterday's victory, the Orioles improved to 15-13 under Trembley, who hasn't had the services of shortstop Miguel Tejada and third baseman Melvin Mora for much of his tenure.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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